The Creation Story

Last weekend at CCV, we kicked off Week 1 of The Story. The Story is a book created by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee that is basically an adapted version of the NIV Bible Translation, written in novel form.  For the next 30-ish weeks, our entire church will be going through this book and that will be the focus of our weekend experiences; in essense,  a year-long sermon series – yes!!

Not only was this the kick-off of The Story, but it was also what we consider Fall Kick-Off weekend. At CCV, there are 3 BIG weekends that we prepare and program pretty heavily for: Christmas, Easter and Fall Kick-Off.  Fall Kick-Off weekend is usually the 2nd or 3rd weekend in August and corresponds with when local schools are back in session.

For this weekend, we wanted to figure out a creative and more interesting way to set-up the sermon, which was all about the beginning – God’s creation. The idea we came up with birthed out of a brainstorming meeting talking about some general creation story concepts.  We decided to buy an old globe and paint it with chalkboard paint, then use a chalk-pencil to create the illustrated images that represent the creation story.

Here’s what we came up with:

The best part about this video, for me – is that it was very much a collaborative effort amongst our team.  I want to give credit where it’s due, so here’s how it played out:



I wanted to make sure I listed everyone by name because this video showed a tremendous amount of teamwork amongst the entire Service Programming Team at CCV.  Everyone pitched in to help make it happen, in a very short amount of time too! I’m not as concerned with whether or not you think this video is even worth talking about, I just want to celebrate the victory that we all had as a part of this weekend.  This video, in particular, got great feedback and I think it was definitely a win for our team!

Artistic Wins

Artists need some sense of affirmation to continue making art, otherwise discouragement settles in and they are tempted to give up.

I’m an artist, I’m married to an artist and have several very close friends who are also artists.  I feel like I know the artisan spirit and nature pretty well. Last week I had two very telling conversations, one with my wife about her art and how she’s currently feeling about it; the other, with a good friend and protege of mine about his current life situation – though he’s not an artist by trade, he is an artist at heart.  There was a common thread in both of these conversations: discouragement and fear. It seems as though the discouragement comes from a lack of confidence and an inconsistency in artistic “wins;” and fear seems to come from getting stuck in that cycle of discouragement.

I’ve been there. I’ve been discouraged and I’ve felt the fear of sitting down at an attempt to create another piece of art. I’ve stared at a blank canvas in Photoshop, for what seems like hours – on several occasions. I’ve felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when there is just NOTHING left to give artistically.  I’ve spoken to several creatives on several different occasions who often find themselves in the same position. Where do you think that comes from? Why do we get stuck?

I believe artists & creatives need artistic wins, they need to feel validated and affirmed. We pour our heart and soul into everything we create and when that goes unnoticed, it’s often exhausting trying to manufacture the energy it takes to move on to the next work of art. It’s not enough to create art for the sake of creating it.  We want to know that what we’re doing is moving you.  Personally speaking, I thrive and feed off encouragement in my art.  When I hear that something I created moved someone in some way, it makes me want to create something even betternow. Whether it’s a video I directed, a stage set I contributed to, or a graphic I created: I seriously get pumped for the next project when I know that something I helped to create was a success. On the other hand, it can be miserable trying to move on to the next work of art when the last one seemed to go unappreciated or unnoticed.

As my Senior Pastor always says…”So what’s the take away?”

If you’re an artist or creative: Don’t give up! Hang in there – the wins will come.

If you work with artists or creatives: Find ways to encourage them! Let them know that what they’re doing is making a difference and that it’s moving people. Artistic wins build on each other, if you can help your artists achieve them – you will get better art and creativity out of them in the long run.

Hustle & Hard Work

Did you ever play little league baseball?  I did, and I there are two words that are seared my my memory from days as a little leaguer: “Hustle Up!” I don’t remember my coach’s name, or what he looked like; but I do remember him constantly yelling that phrase at every practice and every game.  It’s as if he was telling us: if you want to win,  you’re gonna HAVE to work harder!

Last month, we moved our family into a new place just up the street from where we were previously living. It’s a great house, we feel extremely blessed to be in the situation that we’re in.  In fact, the new place is literally DOUBLE the size (in square footage) as the old place.  With 3 little ones in the house, this was a welcomed upgrade in size!

While we were moving in, one of my dear friends made a joke that got me thinking. Gazing at the grandeur of the new place, he said: “Wow… all this because you know Photoshop?!”

Of course, he was only joking – and I know that.  He knows that I’ve had to work hard and that nothing has been handed to me. With that said, it really got me thinking about my journey as a designer and how I got to the place that I’m at today:

It’s all about hustle and hard work; it’s as simple as that.

My journey as a Graphic Designer began humbly in June of 1999, when I decided to open up Photoshop 4.0 to create a flyer for the youth group game night. I was tired of seeing flyers made with clip-art and I knew there had to be a better way, I took it upon myself to jump in and figure it out. I had NO idea what I was doing – but I knew one thing, I loved my church and I began to develop a passion for making things look good.

When we were dating, I can remember spending HOURS upon hours on Mikela’s computer (because I didn’t have my own at the time) making stuff in Photoshop.  I joined several online design forums (forums were all the rage before Twitter) and posted my work for critique. I would play Photoshop tennis with guys who were WAY better than me and get absolutely annihilated and embarrassed. I would design, re-design and re-design websites again and again for the youth group I was volunteering at. I would subject myself to the brutal honesty of my future wife, Mikela, who would tell me the good, the BAD, and the UGLY part of every design.

I was relentless in my pursuit to be the best Graphic Designer that I could be, my wife can attest to that. During the day, I worked a full-time job at Biola University - schlepping boxes in the supply warehouse. Every night, I would jump back on the computer and get back to it. I picked up freelance projects for my church, pro-bono projects for friends, I would design anything for anyone in an effort to sharpen my skill set. With no formal education in art or design, I knew I was going to have to work way harder to make this my profession and fulfill my calling in full-time ministry.

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Collin Powell

Do I have natural artistic abilities? Probably. Did Photoshop come easier to me than most people? Maybe. For me, it was more than just talent and natural ability – I wanted to be the best! After all, if God has given me this ability, skill set, giftedness… why not maximize it? I learned a long time ago, don’t ever expect anything to be handed to you: go after it and get it yourself! Get your hustle on, work your butt off to the glory of God and MAXIMIZE the talents that he’s given you!

One more thing: I know what you’re thinking… “How arrogant of him to think that he earned himself everything he’s ever gotten!”  – That’s my not take on this.  I firmly believe in God’s steady hand of provision in my life – He’s proven to be faithful in so many ways over so many years. But, I refuse to sit on my derrière and let God “bless my socks off” without doing anything to deserve it.

The parable of the talents is pretty clear on how God sees those who sit on their talents: What are you doing with yours?

Mikela’s Story

Most anyone who reads this blog knows that I am married to the_most_amazing woman! Mikela is truly a saint in every way. She’s a stay-at-home mom to our 3 kids and also works part-time at Trader Joes, all while trying to conquer the world of Children’s Book Illustration in her free time. She’s the most talented artist I’ve ever known and I’m seriously blessed to call her my wife. Last week, we had the opportunity to interview Mikela and she shared a small part of her life as an artist and her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was a wreck watching this play in our services at CCV

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